Nicolas Scarrci is a software engineer and indie game developer with a background in computer science education and a budding interest in board game development.
My introduction to Agile was confusing. I started hearing about Scrum at work - first conversations about being agile, then conversations about stories, epics, and sprints. Everyone seemed to have different ideas about what it all meant. I started reaching out, I read blog posts and even joined my local agile meetup. After a few meetings it was clear to me that many of us agile-newbies lack real experience with Scrum we need to role-play scratch that play a board game where we work in a scrum together.
Between the notes I’d been taking and some interviews with coworkers the base idea for ScrumMaster started to form. When I shared the idea with my local agile meetup I learned about the existence of agile games. After looking around a bit at things like the penny game I came to the conclusion agile games are great, but they don’t focus on fun. Games should be fun. So I treated it like any other game dev project and ran it by my game dev partner. We started prototyping the game in tabletop simulator and kept tweaking until it had a solid footing. Once it was stable I picked up some supplies and crafted the first functional prototype. At that point no one was safe: I started co-opting any group gathering of technical people that I could find. Thanks to a wealth of gracious playtesting and tireless iteration ScrumMaster reached a tipping point - it was candidly called “shockingly fun.”
In “ScrumMaster: The Board Game” 4-8 players form an agile team which has been given a new project - and a short deadline. As the team spends their effort points to complete subtasks they will encounter Surprises and Events that threaten their velocity as well as Team Events that threaten their team dynamic. Will your team deliver on time and on budget?
For detailed instructions see below.
The project is broken down into a set of stories called the backlog. The players work through the backlog over the course of five sprints. Depending on the size of the team this will take from 45 - 90 minutes. (Plan for two hours if you have a retrospective afterward!) Once the project has been completed the team’s overall performance is assessed and honorary titles are bestowed on deserving team members.
Each sprint consists of three phases: sprint planning, work, and the retrospective.
Team members draw stories from the backlog which they complete over the course of the sprint.
Work starts with an optional stand-up meeting (often held sitting down.) During the standup players may trade stories, share relevant news, or strategize as needed. After the standup players spend effort tokens to complete work. Beware - work often means dealing with surprises.
At the end of the sprint the completed stories are tallied and the team’s velocity is recorded and announced. Players may also take this time to reflect and share surprises as needed.
Once the team has completed all of the work in the backlog the project is complete and the launch party begins. During the launch party the project’s cost is announced and team members are awarded superlatives based on their performance.
Want to Know More?
At this point I’m putting the final touches on ScrumMaster and gearing up for production. If you’re interested in playing the final prototype and are around western Massachusetts or own a copy of tabletop simulator send me an email at [email protected].